Are Megalithic Stone Circles Worshipping Nature?
I have been researching the megaliths of the Tal-y-fan Mountain in North Wales for some time now. Not only have I found a correlation that powerful civilisations from the remote past were interested in the mineral wealth of the environment, they had a respect and a fascination for nature itself.
To get a clearer picture of the whole area immediately around the Tal-y-fan mountain we first need to look at the remaining sites that are still in their original positions and in relatively good condition.
There is little doubt that many of the megaliths around Tal-y-Fan have been lost over the years, but there is still enough remaining to get a feel for the overall arrangement. And there seems to be a reverence for the creative forces of nature in the placing of the megaliths upon the landscape.
There is a degree of uncertainty as to whether the remaining stones are linked, and some imagination is required to interconnect them fully. What follows is a quick guide to some of the sites where megalithic stones can be found on the Tal-y-fan Mountain.
A short explanation before I get onto the main topic of this article, namely the overall ground-plan.
The Pass of the Two Stones
The two stones ironically stand on their own quite some way from the main cluster of sites found on the eastern slope of the mountain.
However, if you look carefully enough you can see that there are dozens of “potential” megaliths that could have stood amongst the glacial debris found on the mountain pass.
These stones stand on either side of the old Roman road that runs from the Roman fort of Canovium (along the Conwy estuary) to another Roman fort Segontium, which is to be found just south of Caernarfon. This mountain pass would have been essential to link the two forts and would have seen a lot of activity. So you would expect that there would be a decent amount of information about these remote megaliths.
Yet alas, there is nothing written into the annals of history.
Like most megalithic sites around Britain, the area is not marked with any kind of information. One stands around 9.5 feet high and has the appearance of a giant tooth, (or a Brazil nut). It’s immense, and the positioning makes little or no sense. Its shape is unique and I have not seen its like anywhere.
The second stone is found about 150 yards to the north-west of the giant’s tooth. It stands about six foot at its peak. The stone is quite different in appearance to the former and larger partner. This has a glossy white quality to it, as if the original was pure white. The former stone is rough and shows very clearly its basalt quality.
There is a third stone in this collection, found north-eastern of the white stone. This stands about 3 feet high and has no obvious alignment or purpose.
These three stones are very strange indeed. They defy an obvious explanation and that is why I keep coming back to the place to see if I missed something. They just stand here as silent sentinels. Totally elusive and aloof they have remained rooted here for several millennia, never revealing their purpose to the casual passer-by.
The Giant’s Staff of Tal-y-fan
This is another odd megalith. It stands on its own and has one very curious feature. Its lean is very definite and toward a north-easterly trajectory. Whether this was the original intention or whether it’s a result of damage, who knows? Its thin needle like appearance gives it the title “Giant’s staff” and it also remains a mystery. Maybe its thin rod like shape makes it the perfect shadow casting sun-dial?
The Seat of the Bard
A typical cromlech/dolmen or burial chamber, (though I doubt it was used as a grave) for it is too narrow and shallow to store a body. It sits into the mountainside facing east and to me it looks very weathered. Its exposure to the elements over the millennia have smoothed over and rounding off its original geometry. Theories abound for this type of megalith. Some say they were burial tombs, some say they were always exposed. Most say that they were graves of some sort, but I flatly refuse to accept this. I will explain why in another article, but I will say now that not one bone has ever been found inside or around this structure.
This structure is as elusive as they get upon this mountain. An underground chamber with an opening to the north. In a great state of damage, this chamber was originally much larger. It has collapsed and moved due to subsidence. It is also possible that eager treasure hunters have desecrated the site over the years. It resembles the mysterious fogous of ancient Cornwall, but for one discerning feature – there appears to be a standing stone outside its entrance.
I would suggest that this stone would have been much taller originally, having the appearance of a pointed pillar or tapered needle. You can see where the missing part of the stone has been broken off. This throws extra doubt on the official theory for this site and can only sharpen the imagination as to what it was for.
This bulky, broad and smooth Menhir is to be found at the foothill of the mountain peak toward the north. It sits at the junction of several ancient track ways, but does not act as an orientation stone as some theorists have suggested. This is because the paths in any direction are clear to the horizon and no marker would be needed. Its different from all the other megaliths on this mountain and nobody has come up with a satisfactory explanation for its design or positioning.
Moving further north along the northern “quartz riddled” spine of Tal-y-fan, you come to another solitary standing stone. There is no discernible connection to Maen Penddu from this stone, it simply stands solid and shard like upon the steep mountainside. It stands around 8 feet tall.
Up and to the west of Hafodty Manhir you can find probably one of the least visited stone circles in Wales, (maybe even Britain). It’s close proximity to the previous Menhir shows no apparent alignment. The one strange aspect of this stone circle however is that the stones appear to lean into the middle. They are broken, weathered and obviously very ancient (around 3000 BCE), and one can only imagine what this mountain side circle would have looked like in its prime.
The Undocumented Megalithic Sites of Tal-y-fan
This small list is only a part of the potential number of megaliths around the peak of Tal-y-fan. There are some documented and undocumented sites I have left out due to the fact I want to only illustrate the variety and possible connections of these few.
Every site is different from the next and every stone is unique. There is only one coherent aspect of these megaliths. They hug the peak of the mountain, as if wrapped around like luminous light’s around a Christmas tree. Dare we assume that this is deliberate design? Why not? If the builders went to such trouble, (if they had trouble) to create these structures, why not make them connect into a pattern?
Creations of Nature
Nature creates in many forms, but there are fundamental laws and patterns that reoccur time and time again. The spiral is one such pattern. Its found almost everywhere. Can we not assume that the ancients were in such contact with nature that they not only understood its ways to a degree, but that they could see its creating ways?
What better way to lock your creations into the fabric of nature, than to honour and reflect that connection via the agency of very long lasting stone.
The Fibonacci sequence, discovered by the 13th Century Italian mathematician of the same name, is one such natural constant. When I look at the arrangement of the megaliths upon Tal-y-fan mountain, I cannot fail to see the spiral pattern that is found throughout nature. Is it possible that the entire megalithic arrangement is one giant spiral rising to the sacred peak of Tal-y-fan? Having pinpointed the sites on Google Earth, that is certainly what appears.
The ancients responsible for these enigmatic structures would have witnessed the spiral in many forms around them, maybe even on a molecular level. Certain shaman cultures that still exist in the world today openly describe the places they visit in their drug induced trances as places of the spirit and places where nature creates. From their drawings and descriptions we see many images of what can only be described as the molecular level of reality.
Maybe those very cultures responsible for the megaliths also travelled to such levels of consciousness where the fabric of nature could be witnessed?
I certainly would not rule out the suggestion that ancient civilisations used psychoactive substances (they would have had plenty of varieties to choose from) and we can fairly assume they wanted to express this connection and reverence for nature in a symbolic form that would last the centuries.
So we have to look at nature when we study the megaliths. It was most probably paramount to the builders and seems to be the purpose for such effort.
The stones may be silent now, but they speak of many things from their past. They are plain and blank, but they are symbolic and thus full of power. They are hyperbole. They are a minimalist method put into use before our modern conception of this style of art. They call on us to see simplicity in its beauty.
Our imagination and dogmatic habits collide into a melting pot of theories about the megaliths. We have studied them for millennia and still not one person can come up with a solid reason for their creation. I have not read one theory that does not contain some form of lunacy, dogmatism, stupidity, ignorance or patronisation.
And this is to be expected.
The reason behind the building of the megaliths extend so far into the past, how can we possibly understand the true motives of the builders?
We can only assume that the ancients were close to the natural world. The environment and the cosmos as viewed was closely observed from certain vantage points and at particular times of the year. Ancient civilisations were intrinsically intertwined and connected with nature. Today we forget that we still are connected to nature. Most of us are still trapped in animal consciousness that plays a part in the interconnectedness of the natural world.
Yet we are forever at the mercy of the Universal forces of nature and we still need its creations to sustain and protect us. But quite simply, there is more to distract us today from the powerful biology of our being.
But this was not so for the people living thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of years ago.
Sacred Geometry in Nature
What was around to distract the ancient populations from nature? Very little. Nature was to be feared and revered, because it dominated their outlook on life and actions in life. Nature was their T.V. their healer, their mystic, their god, their prophet, their life.
The honoring of nature has many expressions and I think that many students of the ancients and megaliths in particular, fail to take their theories further and attempt to “dig under the surface” and look for answers in the geometry of nature. Not to mention its molecular make up.
Most archaeologists and historians only look at the surface and dig around for clues. This is fine, but why stop there? Especially because megaliths offer very little in appearance. When will they look deeper and admit a greater story is waiting to be told? Why will scholars not put their reputations on the line and be brave enough to actually do some proper research?
When investigating ancient civilisations, we have to look from many angles and use as much technology as we can to look into megalithic structures. When examining megaliths, we find simplicity and when we have finished looking, I’m sure we will see simplicity again.
Simplicity and beauty. Nature is immensely complex, yet extremely simple.
I look at the megaliths with an open mind and sensitivity. They are not brutish crude things, built by a simple, un-evolved sub species. They are reflective of natures ever incredible and beautiful creations. We still create in simplistic ways today and the materials are still taken from nature, (however much we may mix and mutate those raw materials).
But there is a vast difference with the majority of buildings we create today, and that is they do not show reverence and honour to nature. They are selfishly for us. We take and use them only for ourselves.
The ancients time and time again built with nature in mind.
Their structures are sacred.
They reflect the geometry of creation.